WASHINGTON, D. C. – More than 70 years after Clyde Shull of Upper Sandusky stormed Utah Beach on D-Day as a Ninth Infantry Division artillery gunner, the government of France will repay his heroism by awarding him its highest medal – theLegion of Honor.
On Monday, a French colonel who serves as a U.S. Army liaison will present the decoration to the 96-year-old great-grandfather in a ceremony at the Wyandot County Courthouse. The honor is part of a French program to express the nation’s gratitude to U.S. soldiers who liberated it from invaders in World Wars I and II.
“Through him, the French government wants to address the message to an entire generation of World War II veterans and the United States of America that France will never forget what they did in 1944,” said a statement from the French military officer who will present Shull’s medal, Col. Nicolas Auboin.
Shull is among roughly 2,000 U.S. veterans to whom the French government has recently bestowed the medal that Napoleon Bonaparte established in 1802. France began distributing more of the medals to U.S. veterans after the 50th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy, said embassy spokesman Ben Cormier.
Among those honored was George Lizanich of Parma, who got the medal last month for his WWII service in France.
“When you have a Legion of Honor award, you are a little more mature – not 20 or 30,” Cormier said of his nation’s decision to issue more medals to U.S. veterans long after the war’s end. “It is a phenomenon of generations. We were looking at people who deserve this award and World War II veterans appeared as obvious.”
The office of Bowling Green GOP Rep. Bob Latta filled out Shull’s award paperwork after Latta – who co-chairs the Congressional French Caucus – met Shull while squiring the U.S. ambassador to France around his congressional district this spring. During that trip, Latta and the ambassador presented Shull with a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol.
“Mr. Shull exemplifies his generation and the monumental sacrifices they made during World War II, and in receiving the French Legion of Honor, he will be rightfully recognized for his service and dedication to our country,” said a statement from Latta.
Theresa Miller, who heads Wyandot County’s veterans service office, says Shull served with the 34th Field Artillery Battalion in North Africa, Sicily, France, Belgium and Germany.